Story by Edward Mahurien / Special to the Viking
A Long Beach police officer shot and injured an LBCC student who allegedly fled police and fired upon the officer around 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 20, near the JJ building on the PCC, police said.
Shots were fired in or around the JJ building housing the Aviation and Auto maintenance programs. He was confirmed to be a LBCC student by college President Eloy Oakley.
Police refused to release the name of the armed student but the Long Beach Press-Telegram identified him as Travis Brown, 26, according to reports they gathered through eyewitnesses. The suspect fled the scene of an altercation on Walnut Avenue on the east side of the campus when police noticed the confrontation and stopped.
The officer involved was not an LBPD officer assigned to LBCC as part of the campus police, but a member of the directed enforcement team. The team targets specific targets and locations, specifically areas of high drug use and gang activity, authorities said. The instance was said to be a random patrol by one of their officers. The officer’s name was not released.
The suspect ran through the JJ Building and fired at the officer in front of the building and the officer returned fire injuring the suspect in the leg or buttocks area, Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell told the Viking newspaper.
Conflicting reports surfaced as to where exactly the shots were fired, McDonnell initially said in his press conference, saying the shots were fired from inside the classroom, but later said he wasn’t sure exactly where the shootout took place.
A student eyewitness who saw the police running after the suspect said the altercation included the suspect’s family members.
Lacey, an English major who declined to give her last name, said she saw the suspect running from police and holding what she described as a black bag tucked under his right arm. “I saw him running and the cops were right behind him. They were shouting, ‘Stop police! Stop!’ but he just kept running,” the eyewitness said.
The suspect was immediately taken into custody and transported to a local hospital. McDonnell expected him to be released late Thursday night and will then be transferred to booking. McDonnell declined to speculate on specific charges given the ongoing investigation, but one officer on the scene who wished to remain anonymous said the felony charge of attempted murder of a police officer was highly likely.
Despite the PCC being in a more crime-ridden area than the LAC, the PCC is statistically safer than the LAC and classes in unaffected areas proceeded as normal Thursday night. Oakley and McDonnell both echoed those statistics and reiterated that students should rest assured that the campus is safe and it will be business as usual Monday, June 23.
With the highly publicized and often tragic incidents involving guns on school campuses, the June 19 scenario is extremely rare on the PCC, the chief said. Students taking classes in the JJ Building, however, were locked down until they could be interviewed by police.
One woman, Kimberly Johnson, wife of a student in the building where the gunfire occurred, was visibly distraught as she rushed down to the campus with her grand-daughter to retrieve the house keys from her husband. She was told by her husband that he could not leave and even cell-phone use was being restricted by the officers. An officer retrieved the keys from her husband, but he was not immediately released.
Crime scene investigators and forensics experts are processing the crime scene and McDonnell expects the process to take several hours.
LBCC arranged for counselors to be on campus Monday, June 23, to help students and employees cope with the aftermath of the shooting. In April, Lt. Julie Prior helped coordinate a mock shooting drill at the LAC to train officers how to respond.